Book Review-The Collected Songs Of Cold Mountain Translated By Red Pine

The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain contains 307 poems of the Chinese poet Han Shan (Cold Mountain). He was a 9th century hermit poet who lived in a cave, in the remote mountains of China. He wrote his poems on rocks. Not much is known about him, but reading his poems, one can see that he had a profound understanding of Taoism and Ch’an Buddhism.

The book has a translator’s preface and an introduction by John Blofeld. The poems are in Chinese and English. There are two to three poems (mainly three) per page and Red Pine provides detailed information on the poems. These comments are very helpful for the reader. A black & white photograph of Cold Mountain’s cave is in the book. Poems of Big Stick and Pickup are also included at the end of the book. When Cold Mountain would go to the Kuoching temple he would visit his friends Big Stick and Pickup. The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain is highly recommended.

 

Below are four example poems of Cold Mountain from the book: 

 

For an image of life and death
consider ice and water
water freezes into ice
ice melts back into water
what dies must live again
what lives is bound to die
ice and water don’t harm each other
both life and death are fine

 

Cold Mountain speaks these words
these words no one believes
honey goes down easy
yellow cork is hard to swallow
agreement makes men happy
opposition makes them mad
all I see are puppets
performing another tragedy

 

Boys and grown-up men
when you act don’t be rash
be firm and iron-willed
stay on the Bodhi Path
don’t take any side roads
if you do you’ll suffer in vain
and don’t go searching for buddhahood
realize the mind is king

 

I enjoy the simple path
between dark vines and mountain caves
the wilderness has room to roam
with white clouds for companions
there’s a road but not to town
only mindless men can climb
at night I sit on the rocks alone
until the moon comes up Cold Mountain

 

The Collected Songs Of Cold Mountain Translated By Red Pine can be purchased from Amazon.com below:


The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain (Mandarin Chinese and English Edition)

 

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